Here at The Shona Project, we have a list as long as your arm of all the amazing women around the world that we consider our heroes. We’ve decided to dedicate the next few Friday’s to some of these women. We’ll tell you all about them but most importantly, we’ll tell you why we love them!
Kicking off the second installment of Shona Hereos, we have, Sinead Burke.
Introducing Sinead Burke
Many people may not have heard of Sinead Burke but if you have there is no doubt in your mind how inspiring she truly is to girls everywhere. Sinead is from Navan and was born in 1990. Sinead was born with a condition called achondroplasia which affects bone growth that can lead to dwarfism. She has impacted the lives of millions with her passion and dedication to making life that small bit more equal and fairer for everyone. She is a woman of many passions. She is an Irish writer, teacher, influencer, disability activist, and broadcaster.
Why we love her?
There is a long list of reasons why we love Sinead but we’ll mention just a few. Sinead Burke has changed the life of many people and with her passion for change, she has positively impacted people all over the world.
Sinead uses her voice as a catalyst for change. She has always had a love of fashion but due to her condition, she always found it difficult to either be taken seriously in the fashion industry or even find clothes that fit right. Instead of sitting back, she has used her voice to highlight the need for more diversity within the fashion and design industries at the young age of 16. With endless campaigning, she has challenged big names to make changes and draw attention to people who have disabilities. She has helped create the first little-person mannequins.
I want garments that reflect my personality. It’s difficult to find in the childrenswear department. And often, womenswear requires far too many alterations. I want shoes that affect my maturity, professionalism, and sophistication. Instead, I’m offered sneakers with Velcro straps and light-up shoes.
Sinead has traveled the world to finally breakdown barriers and open a dialogue on what it’s like for people with a disability. She has trained a primary school teacher to ensure all students feel like they have a safe space and a voice. Along her journey, she has visited workplaces, huge agencies, and even the white house to bring recognition internationally. Along with traveling the world Sinead has created a podcast and done Ted talks to empower people all over the world and finally get rid of any biases surrounding disability. There is no stopping Sinead from doing all the incredible work she has set her mind to.
For so long, the fashion industry has designed almost exclusively for a particular woman with particular measurements, and they’ve never really been challenged on it. We’re all consumers, yet we’re rarely given a voice within this industry that dictates what we wear.
Sinead is unapologetically confident in her own body and her own look and we love it. She has shown us time and time again that beauty isn’t in fitting a certain look but instead embracing the way you look. In a world where everyone feels like they need to be picture perfect just like all the models in the magazines or online, she has truly embraced herself. Sinead is giving power to girls to feel more confident in their own skin and she wouldn’t change anything about herself. Her love of fashion has been stronger than the fear of not fitting a certain mold. Sinead has been the first little person to strut down the red carpet at the MET gala flaunting her favorite dress. If this isn’t empowering, I don’t know what is.
Disability is articulated as a struggle, an unnecessary burden that one must overcome to the soundtrack of a string crescendo. But disabled lives are multi-faceted – brimming with personality, pride, ambition, love, empathy, and wit.
The fight for more inclusivity hasn’t been an easy one. Sinead has endured many hard obstacles that she had to find the strength in herself to overcome. She uses her own life experienced to draw more attention to the struggles people with disabilities have to face and the bullying they sometimes come in contact with. Sadly, even in this day and age, no one is safe from the keyboard warriors hiding behind a screen or people that feel the need to break someone else down to make themselves feel better. Sinead has endured her fair share of bullying, mocking throughout the years such as being leapfrogged on O’Connell street by a teenage boy while his friend recorded it. All the obstacles she faced never slowed down Sinead’s dedication to change instead it made her more determined on accomplishing what she set her mind to.
Sinead Burke’s Achievements
Sinead has achieved many incredible things from when she first started blogging and has come a long way in her career. As I mentioned before she has been the first little person to attend the MET gala along with helping create the first-ever little-person mannequins however that’s not all. Over the years She has been featured in Vogue magazine and received awards such as the Leaders awards in recognition of the advocacy of inclusion, she has been apart of and the change maker of the year award, and much more. There is no doubt in our minds that in the years to come she will achieve even more incredible things.
Are you now obsessed with Sinead and want to learn more? Check out a little clip from her interview on The Late Late Show where she discusses bullying.
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